Article: The Scientific Benefits of Talk Therapy

From the perspective of a Psychotherapist I am very happy to express the benefits that talk therapy has on individuals. It’s not just the act of venting or releasing what bothers you but the actual scientific fact that psychotherapy can result in detectable changes in the brain which have been seen by studies conducted by Eric Kandel, M.D. (Neurologist). You may ask what kind of changes in the brain? Talk therapies cause neuroplastic change in the brain (another way of saying that brain maps change). In the presence of a good therapist, talking about our problems actually modifies the brain.

As a psychotherapist I use talk therapy as a means to help my clients view a memory from a new perspective so that they are no longer feeling pain when they think about something that previously caused them emotional distress. In biological terms, when this occurs energy is diverted to the front of the brain and away from the area that stores the emotional pain. As a result, millions of new neural connections are born at the front of the brain and with less energy to feed them; those connections associated with the trauma begin to dissolve.

It is often the case that the emotional intensity of trauma, chronic stress, and even depression can create some degree of neural damage over the years. The good news is the regenerative capacity of the brain is so amazing that recent studies have shown that we can actually in fact repair the damage. Studies have indicated how the hippocampus (part of the brain) can be regenerated which is better known as “Neurogenesis” which is a way to re-wire the brain and regenerate it as well. It is known that thoughts (beliefs) and emotions can cause “Neurogenesis” so we need to be vigilant upon what thoughts we hold (self-talk) and the types of emotions we generate or attach ourselves to. To take it a step further, talking through our thoughts and emotions also causes “Neurogenesis” too.

To give a clearer picture of what scientific research concludes is that every hour you spend thinking about something doubles the number of neural connections in the brain for that thought. So, every time you experience a challenging emotion and think about it, it becomes more and more intense and powerful which then shuts down your prefrontal cortex of the brain which is your creative and problem-solving section and as a result only blocks your success. The notion here is to work through the emotions and thoughts that are causing you distress possibly through talk therapy and then let them go by replacing them with new more productive thoughts and emotions. I don’t believe we need to dwell on the past over and over for true healing to take place, yet we need to address the issues at their core and transform them. Talk therapy may be a beneficial way to do that as research has found a link between suppressed negative emotions and disease; therefore talking out problems or challenges acts as a release valve for one’s emotions. Guided Imagery or Visualizations are also very beneficial techniques that I incorporate in my psychotherapy practice that actually can change the microscopic structure of our brains for true healing to take place. Please also read the articles called the “The Emotion Code” and “The Healing Codes” which are very powerful techniques I incorporate in my practice for both emotional, physical and spiritual healing to take place.

Finally, I just want to end by saying the human body is a walking miracle that has an amazing power to heal and regenerate and this is influenced by our minds (thoughts and emotions) on a grand scale.

By: Effie Hadzis